Instant Replay: Sharks escape with shootout win in Columbus

Instant Replay: Sharks escape with shootout win in Columbus
March 13, 2014, 6:30 pm
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Adam Burish, right, checks Blue Jackets' Corey Tropp during the second period of the Sharks' 4-3 win on Thursday night. (AP)


A much needed power play goal and some clutch saves by goaltender Alex Stalock helped the Sharks to a 4-3 shootout win in Columbus on Thursday night.

The win, San Jose’s fourth straight, brings the Sharks even with Anaheim at the top of the Pacific Division with 93 points, although the Ducks have played one fewer game and own the tiebreaker by virtue of more regulation/overtime wins.

The Sharks erased a 2-1 deficit after two periods to take their first lead.

First, Matt Nieto’s rebound goal on a hammer from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the point tied it just 15 seconds after the faceoff. It was Nieto's ninth.

Then, on a rush up the ice moments after Stalock stopped R.J. Umberger’s shorthanded try on a two-on-one, Patrick Marleau got free in the high slot. Joe Pavelski found him, and Marleau deposited his second goal of the night past Sergei Bobrovsky at 5:56 of the third period.

That ended a miserable stretch for the Sharks power play, which was 2-for-56 before the goal, including failing on its first two tries against the Blue Jackets while allowing a shorthanded goal.

James Wisniewski was allowed to walk in from the point and drill a slap shot past Stalock to tie it at 3-3 with less than five minutes to go, but Stalock helped force extra time with some brilliant saves. His best came with just four seconds to go in regulation with the Sharks shorthanded, when he quickly moved from his left to his right to stop Jack Johnson’s blast on a rebound off the end boards, sealing the post.

The Sharks killed off the remainder of Brent Burns’ tripping penalty that carried into overtime, which Columbus essentially controlled for the duration of the five minutes. The Jackets couldn’t find that fourth goal, though, and Joe Pavelski was the only shooter to convert in the skills competition.

The Sharks have won their last seven shootouts, and are 10-5 on the season.

Nieto’s goal allowed the Sharks to put a lopsided second period in favor of Columbus behind them. The Blue Jackets outshot the Sharks 16-7 in the middle frame, and took the lead on Umberger’s shortie.

It was Umberger’s miss early in the third on a two-on-one rush, though, that prevented Columbus from taking the lead back. Stalock also made an important stop on Ryan Johansen on a two-on-one about four minutes into the third, when it was still a 2-2 game.

Columbus struck first. The Sharks won a neutral zone faceoff back into their own zone, but Nick Foligno managed to get to the loose puck. From his knees, Foligno dropped a pass to Johansen, who beat Stalock inside the far post at 5:28.

San Jose tied it midway through the first. Logan Couture fought off Columbus’ Jack Johnson in the corner, and wheeled around to find Marleau in front of the net.

The Sharks won the only previous game against Columbus, 3-2 on Feb. 7 in the final game before the Olympic break.

San Jose ended a three-game losing streak at Nationwide Arena, and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

Special teams
The Sharks finished 1-for-3 on the power play, and surrendered a shorthanded goal for the second straight game.

Columbus was 0-for-3 on the power play. San Jose has killed off 29 of its last 32 chances against.

In goal
Stalock improved to 11-3-1 as a starter, finishing with 35 saves. He is a perfect 3-0 in the shootout, and has not allowed a single shooter to convert in 10 attempts.

Antti Niemi, who started and won the previous three games, will likely return to the net on Friday at the Islanders.

Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, made 24 saves in the loss. He had won five of his previous six starts.

Raffi Torres missed his second straight game, and third since returning to the lineup after right knee surgery in September.

Columbus was missing Artem Anisimov, its second leading goal-scorer, as he was expecting the birth of a child.

Up next
The Sharks continue their stretch of three road games in four day against the Islanders on Friday and Rangers on Sunday. They return home to host Florida on Tuesday, March 18, and Anaheim on Thursday, March 20.